Dark Wraith of Shannara
by Terry Brooks
Published by Del Rey
199 pages, 2008
Shannara Goes Graphic and to the Screen
Reviewed by Lincoln Cho
Terry Brooks, the “godfather of American fantasy” has referred to Dark Wraith of Shannara as “the grand experiment.” It’s not difficult to see why. It’s a brand new story set in the distant future world of Shannara that tells the multi-generational story of the Ohmsford family. Though Brooks has set work outside of Shannara, it is these for which he is best known, as well as being what famed publisher Lester del Rey scooped out of the slush pile in the form of The Sword of Shannara, published in 1977. That was about 21 million copies of American-published Terry Brooks novels ago.
Thirty years later, it’s exciting to see this grand master of the genre trying his hand at something that is, for him, entirely new with a graphic novel. In an opening message, he writes that he wanted to offer readers something from Shannara and yet, “a fresh story was needed, and I had been thinking about doing something more with Jair Ohmsford ever since publication of the novella “Indomitable” a few years back.” And that’s just what he’s done with Dark Wraith of Shannara.
In a very interesting “making of” section of the book, we are told that the story was conceived and, to a certain degree, executed. by Brooks himself, but since he had no experience with the form, illustrator Edwin David and writer Robert Place Napton were brought in to do the “heavy lifting.” The making of section leads to an artist’s sketchbook that shows how the visual reality of the characters were brought to the page.
In the end, however, does Dark Wraith of Shannara work as a graphic novel? Though I’m no expert with the form myself, it seems to me that it does. The story is engaging and easy to follow. At a certain level I would say it is too easy to follow, but then I’m a huge fan of Brooks’ novels. There is, by need, a great deal less story here. That said, it would be a wonderful introduction to his work.
The illustrations are nothing short of spectacular. I found that aspect a joy: seeing some of the aspects of Shannara I’ve been reading about for years come to a different kind of life.
And speaking of a new kind of life for Shannara, last year Warner Brothers optioned the rights to make a movie based on the Shannara books that must be executed before 2010. According to Brooks’ Web site:
All of that will provide fans of the work of this amazing writer something else new to look forward to. | May 2008
Lincoln Cho is a contributing editor to January Magazine.